In the archeological parc in Kempten you can visit three different location, which are located close to eachother. Two you have to pay for (roman bath and temple district) and one is for free (forum foundations).
The roman bath has been a very important spot in the daily life of the founders of the old Kempten, the romans. The town was called Cambodunum at that time and inhabited an estimated amount of 3000 people. The bath was a central meeting point, not only because of the bath itself, but because here were toilets with flowing water. People had no private toilets at that time.
Visiting the bath you will get an insight of the bath culture of the romans (also on a world wide focus), see how advanced the architecture was and feel the roots of the nowadays Kempten.
1. May - 31. October: 10:00 - 17:00
1. November - 30. April: 10:00 - 16:30
Mid December to Mid March closed.
The bath can be found on google maps, it is the large grey roof close to the marker...
Kempten is the base for the motorsports team of Abt Sportsline, a very successful participant of the international DTM racing competition (German Touringcar Championship). You can visit a museum at their office where they show racing cars and other objects related to motorsports. It is very impressive.
The exhibition is for free and highly recommendable if you are interested in car racing.
In Kempten you will find the Alpine Museum which is a subsidiary of the Bavarian National Museum in Munich. It covers many aspects of mountains from their role in religion over transport, cartography, nature to mountain climbing and skiing.
In the lowest floor you will find a permanent exhibition about local sacral wood works and paintings. Here Jesus on his donkey is my favorite.
In the Kornhaus, close to the Residenz in downtown Kempten, you can visit the Allgäu museum which covers many aspects of the life in the region Allgäu. You will hear about old professions, get an idea of the life close to the mountains and in the city, understand how the Allgäu has changed in the past centuries. There are several clocks to admire.
We found ourselves in Kempten on a very warm Sunday morning in May. Couldn't go into the church because they were having Mass; too early to eat; missed the tour at the Residenz so we decided to go for a walk. There was no traffic and few people. Guess they were all at Mass.
We wandered the town, through parks, down past the Rathaus on to the river Iller. We walked up Baker's Street and loved it all. The stores have signs that are little works of art. The streets were incredibly clean. The windows had lovely lace curtains. It was all completely perfect.
We did finally get back and get into the church, took our tour of the Residenz and had lunch at a beer garden and people appeared on the streets and in the cafes but it was a delightful time to take a morning walk.
Here's my journal entry for the Basilica: "It is an imposing church with magnificent baroque decoration. Above the altar is a multistoried dome/cupola that is open, airy and graceful. In the choir are four sets of carved wooden choir stalls and many have panels that are pictures of various early scenes. These are by Scagliola. As I was admiring them, a middle-aged gentleman said something to me in German. I explained I didn’t speak German and he walked on only to reappear momentarily and say in English, “A magnificent church, yes?” I agreed with him in my poor German and he smiled and went on his way."
There were flowers on the pews that must have been from a wedding the previous day. The effect was lovely.
The Sankt Lorenz Basilika (great hall) was the first major church built in South Germany after the Thirty-Years’ War as both a parish and monastery church. The original building work started in 1652 with various additions over the years.
The Corn Warehouse was built around 1700, with baroque façade and three-storey Volute gables serves today as a festival hall and is seat of the Allgäu Museum with arts vault. An extra attraction is the curved fountain to the front of the building.
The Residenz was a Benedictine monastery founded in the 8th century and developed into the Residence of the Duke Abbots of Kempten until 1803. This baroque building with double courtyards includes the “Fürstensaal” (Hall of the Dukes) with its austere stuccowork and the “Prunkräume” (Rooms of State) with gorgeous Rococo decoration which is unique in this part of the country.
April to September: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
October to March: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Adults: 3.50 EUR
The “Erasmus Kapelle” is a chapel below the St Mang square – or rather what is left of it. It has a long history, with first being a bone house under the cemetery chapel in the 13th century. There was a double church, with the basement being dedicated to St. Erasmus and the upper church being dedicated to St. Michael. Later, the chapel then went into possession of the town and was used as place for linen quality checks with the basement being a kind of drinking parlour. In 1857 then the building was destroyed and the basement was filled with all the stones. In 2008, the square was redesigned and they found the remainders of this chapel and as there still was much left they decided to open this place for visits.
When you visit this place you can see the remainders of the vaults, windows and wall paintings. They also found many bones and buried them next to the chapel, and you can see skulls through a hole. There’s also a showcase with some of the findings, and some kind of interactive panel which gives you quite a lot of information about these pieces. Especially the paternoster rings were interesting as I’ve never seen such things before; they are made of bones and it’s an early version of a rosary.
You’ll also watch a film down in the chapel that takes about 10 minutes and which was projected on three of the walls, showing things of interest on the wall. This was interesting but also a bit difficult to follow as it was so fast!
You only can visit the chapel with a guide who will give you some explanations on the history of that chapel. There’s a maximum number of visitors (I think it’s 30), as it’s not a large place!
Admission: 2,50 € adults. Combination ticket Residence & Erasmus chapel 4 € (adults).
Cambodunum, that’s the old name of the Roman town at the place where you now find Kempten. This Roman town developed mainly from the 2nd century AD, but there had been a Celtic and Roman settlement already before. That makes Kempten one of the oldest towns of Germany.
Today you can find remainders of this old settlement in the “Archäologischer Park Cambodunum”, also called APC. One of its sights is the Kleine Therme/ Small Thermae. This first was a private bath for the Roman governor, his staff and his guests, and later was restructured to also offer public latrines. There’s not too much left, just the ruins of walls and floors, but there are very good descriptions of what you are seeing. It isn’t large, although there were quite a lot of rooms - changing room, heating rooms, sweating bath, latrine and several bathing rooms. It’s impressive if you recall that this was built 2000 years ago and what they already could do at that time!
The place is roofed and has glass walls, and is also accessible for wheelchairs.
There’s another place nearby that you can visit, the Gallo-römischer Tempelbezirk. This is the area where used to be several temples, dating from the first and second century. Some of the temples were partly reconstructed and rebuild.
Besides, there used to a “Forum”, which was town hall, church and market square in one, surrounded by public buildings. You only can see the foundations of it, and there’s a model of how it may have looked in the first century.
Admission (“Kleine Thermen” plus temple area): 3 € adults, 1,50 € children. We got a reduced ticket as we only visited the thermae. The “Forum” is free.
Kempten has a very nice town hall. It was build 1474, replacing an earlier half-timbered house. On the front which is facing the square, you can see the weapons of the patrician families, and on the southern front there’s a fresco of “Heinrich von Kempten”, who (as of a legend) once did rescue the emperor. I must add that Heinrich has been naked, as he just had been in a tub when he realized the emperor was attacked – so don’t wonder why there’s a naked man on the town hall facade!
In the front of the town hall is a fountain with a replica of the original fountain from 1601. There are also other nice and old houses at that square, like the Londoner Hof (1764) with its rococo front. And of course you here find several cafés!
The St Lorenz basilica is a nice bright church next to the residence. Like the residence, it was built after the Thirty Years' War, i.e. in the second half of the 17th century. It’s more or less two churches in one: there’s a basilica-style nave for the parish, and an octagonal choir for the monastery. Since the Benedictine monastery was closed in 1803, the basilica is only a parish church.
The Burghalde is a motte in the south of the old town that used to be surrounded by the Iller river. There once was a late Roman fort and in the medieval times a castle. Today there’s only a tower left from these times. The Wächterhaus (guard’s house) nearby is newer, it dates from the late 19th century. Inside that guard’s house you’ll find the Allgäu castle museum (Allgäuer Burgenmuseum, open on week-ends only) with exhibitions about the history of the castles in that region.
Also there’s a little herb garden, with description of each of the herbs. You better don’t touch them as there are also poisonous plants and those that cause skin irritation!
Besides, there’s an open-air theatre, and you have a nice view on the mountains from there!
The Court Garden (Hofgarten) is found just behind the residence and is laid out in three terraces. It’s a nice place to relax and when were there, several people were sitting on the lawn, enjoying the sunny weather.
At the northern end of the gardens is the Orangery which was built in 1780 as greenery. Today it’s hosting the town’s library.